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Typhoon Goni approaches, Philippines braces for violent winds and intense rains

Christian Fernsby |
The Philippines on Saturday ordered evacuation of coastal villages as it prepares for the onslaught of Typhoon Goni, the strongest tropical cyclone to hit the archipelago so far this year.

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Typhoon Goni, with maximum winds of 215 km per hour and gusts of up to 265 km per hour, moved closer to the eastern coast of the main island of Luzon on Saturday at 20 km per hour from the Pacific Ocean.

PAGASA, the country's weather bureau, forecasted that Typhoon Goni would make landfall in Quezon province, southeast of Manila, on Sunday.

"There remains a possibility that this typhoon will reach Super Typhoon category over the next 12 hours," the bureau said in its 8:00 a.m. (local time) severe weather bulletin, warning of potential flooding and landslide in its path.

The bureau alerted the residents of many regions in the Philippines' main island of Luzon, including the capital Manila, to prepare, warning that Goni "will bring heavy to intense rains," destructive winds and a storm surge of up to 3 meters. It warned the surge may "result in life-threatening and damaging coastal inundation," adding "This storm surge may be accompanied by swells and breaking waves reaching the coast."

Philippine officials warned its citizens about Typhoon Goni's potential damage and urged evacuation of people in coastal villages and low-lying areas. Cedric Daep, of the public safety and emergency management office in Albay province, told a television interview that they need to evacuate up to 200,000 villagers in areas threatened by flood and landslides to safer grounds.

The Philippine Coast Guard said no vessels are allowed to sail, stranding passengers and goods in ports in the Bicol region and Eastern Visayas provinces in the central Philippines, which are in the path of the typhoon.

"We have removed hanging plants, tightened cables that hold our thatch hut on the ground, and pruned a lot of our trees," said a resident of Lipa City in Batangas province in a social media post.

Police forces were deployed in areas in Typhoon Goni's path to help local government units in the evacuations, Philippine National Police chief General Camilo Cascolan said.

Meanwhile, the state weather bureau said it is also tracking Tropical Depression Atsani churning in the Pacific Ocean 1,655 km east of southern Luzon.

Typhoon Goni is the 18th tropical cyclone to hit the Philippines this year. The previous topical storms left a trail of destruction in the archipelago. Typhoon Molave, which drenched the Philippines as it tore through villages in Luzon and the central Philippines early this week, left 22 dead and displaced thousands.

Typhoons and tropical storms regularly hit the Philippines from June through year's end. Typhoon Haiyan, one of the country's worst, killed over 7,000 people in November 2013.

The Philippines lost 463 billion pesos (roughly 9.56 billion U.S. dollars) in damages to natural disasters from 2010 to 2019, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) has reported.

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